Teaching Tips

How to Get You and Your Dancers Out of Your Midwinter Slump

Thinkstock

By the end of January, most of the country is a frozen tundra, the pieces you have been perfecting for months feel stale and your dancers are in a slump. It's time for a morale booster, people!

Never fear, we've got you covered with three different things you can do to help you and your dancers get out of your midwinter slump. Try them out, and see the life return to your dancers' sleepy eyes!

You're welcome!

Let us know what kinds of things you like to do at your studios to help you recover from the chilly end-of-January days. We all need all the support we can get!


1. Improv Therapy

Tim Allen, Home Improvement

What a gift improv is to a dancer's soul. Take one of your technique or rehearsal hours this week, and devote it entirely to exploring movement through improv. Consider using different genres of music and asking your students to take on the character of the subject in the song. Have your dancers spell their names with their bodies as they move from the back of the room toward the mirror. Turn on songs that have a glorious crescendo, and encourage your dancers to move in more and more youthful ways until the peak of the song, then have them transition into moving as if they were 80 years old as the song quiets and fades.

Freedom of expression through movement is a crucial aspect of a dancer's training. It is liberating. Give them the freedom to move, and they will feel recharged the next time you ask them to run one of their competition numbers.

2. Have a Class Party!

Most class parties are reserved for Christmas or the end of the year. Surprise your students with a "just because" party. It will be an exciting change in the monotony of their day-to-day. Provide treats, games and even a classic dance film for the dancers to enjoy. The R&R is exactly what they need to feel excited to get back to class.

3. Compile a Class-wide Gratitude List

Gratitude goes a long way in finding joy within ourselves. The more we recognize what we have been blessed with, the less time we have to care about the things we don't. Bring dry-erase markers to class, and make a list on the mirrors of all the things you and your students are thankful for. Encourage them to dig deep and find something about their fellow teammates that they are thankful for. For example, they could say something like "Sally performs with total abandon in this piece. It inspires me to let go of all my insecurities and give the performance my all." Make sure each student shows gratitude for someone else, and in return is paid a genuine compliment.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.